African-American History

The Metro Archives houses several collections of records relating to Nashville's African-American history, including copies of The Nashville Globe on microfilm, Mt. Ararat cemetery records, and numerous vertical files.

NEW: The Metro Archives has published a searchable online database of enslaved and free people of color in an effort to make genealogical information more accessible to our researchers. Based on records found in the Davidson County will books from 1780-1865, this database contains information regarding the movements and relationships of enslaved African-Americans in Nashville before Emancipation.

The Nashville Slave and Free People of Color Database includes information (if given) such as:

  • The name, age, and sex of the enslaved individual;
  • The enslaved individual's family relationships;
  • The name of the slaveholder;
  • Where and/or to whom the enslaved individual was transferred;
  • Location information for the original record.
  • The database can be accessed and searched here: Nashville Slave and Free People of Color Database.

    If you find a record in the database and would like to see the original document, please contact us with the book and page number. We will be glad to send a digital image of the document to you, either by email or by postal mail.

    Our will books are not the only materials in our holdings that contain these kinds of records - our deed books and court records also contain a wealth of information for genealogy research. The Nashville Slave and Free People of Color Database Project is an ongoing project, and we hope to add more records to the database as we continue to compile data.

    If you have any questions or need any assistance, please contact Kelley Sirko.

    Special thanks to the Nashville Public Library Foundation, Fletch Coke, and Paul Downey for their help and support with this project.